There are only two possible explanations for the shocking spectacle that Toronto witnessed yesterday: stunning incompetence -- braindead decisions from start to finish -- or despicable calculation -- meant to fail, punish Toronto, and justify the billion-dollar boondoggle that Steven Harper's ego demanded.
Look, even Peter Kuitenbrouwer writing in the Natty Po admits it:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has something to answer for tonight. It is hard for this writer to escape the feeling that this summit was designed with every possible star aligned for ugliness to occur. The summit is held on a summer weekend, after university and high school exams are over; all the students are out and free and have time on their hands. Summer weather is perfect for a march. The summit takes place in the heart of Toronto: everybody in Canada has a friend in Toronto where they can stay during a protest.
And can we not say that assembling the greatest number of police in one spot in the history of Canada, and spending more on fences and security than Canada has ever spent before, has a provocative effect?
The authorities were following the so-called Miami Model.
First, ramp up the information war. Label protesters anarchists and terrorists.
Next, intimidate everybody but especially known leaders of protest groups.
On the day, claim 'they' started it, even if agents provocateurs have to be used or irresistible targets -- like abandoned cop cars -- left lying about.
Then, the authorities pat themselves on the back for a job well done. (This bit isn't going so well, however.)
So, incompetence or calculation? Here is David Langille, who was sitting in Fran's at College and Yonge:
As an academic and an activist, I have participated in numerous demonstrations in Canada, the United States, Europe and South America, and I have never seen such a dereliction of duty.
Normally, there are buses full of riot police right in the downtown core, ready to move at a moment's notice.
The police knew that they should focus their energies on the Black Bloc, especially so late on Saturday afternoon.
But when the rioters came smashing their way up the main street of Toronto, the police disappeared for half an hour.
Here's another vote for incompetence:
Asked whether police were slow to respond to the violence, [Toronto Police Chief] Blair said a mob had emerged from the initially peaceful protest and broke into several groups of vandals.
"It did take us some time to move our resources," Blair said.
Blair later said police are reviewing their tactics, "what worked and what didn't work as well."
And now Judy Rebick weighs in:
But it is the police that let the handful of people using Black Bloc tactics run wild and then used the burning police cars and violent images as a media campaign to convince the people of Toronto that the cost and the excessive police presence was necessary. They knew what would happen and they knew how it would happen. It is the police that bear the responsibility for what happened last night. They were responsible for keeping the peace and they failed to do it.
Me, I blame Stephen Fucking Harper for dumping this insanity on us AND the cops for coming up with this Reichstag ploy to justify it -- agents provocateurs all.